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Frappe vs Frappuccino: What’s the Difference?

three frappuccinos

When summer rolls around, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as an ice-cold blended coffee drink. But is that icy drink a frappe or a Frappuccino, and is there a difference between them?

We’re taking a closer look at the frappe vs frappuccino divide, including where each drink originated and what the key differences are. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about these refreshing, sweet treats!

The Short Answer
The frappé is a popular Greek drink made with instant coffee, and Frappuccino is a Starbucks trademark. But in the US, these drinks are essentially the same thing: frothy blended coffee often flavored with caramel or vanilla.

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Where does the frappe come from?

The frappé predates the Frappuccino by several decades. In 1957, a Nescafé employee named Dimitris Vakondios invented the original version of this drink. At the Thessaloniki International Fair in Greece, Vakondios was looking for a way to enjoy his favorite drink — sweetened instant coffee — without overheating. He grabbed a shaker meant to be used with a chocolate Nescafé product, added instant coffee, sugar, and ice cubes, and created the very first frappé.

This iced, sweetened instant coffee drink is still popular in Greece, and you can find it all over the country, especially in the summer. More recently, the frappé has become popular in the US, where it’s made with espresso instead of instant coffee. The modern American frappé is very similar to a Frappuccino: espresso, milk, sugar, and flavorings blended with ice.


Where does the Frappuccino come from?

Back in 1992, a Massachusetts coffee shop called the Coffee Connection started advertising a new drink. The Frappuccino, a blended drink made with espresso, milk, sugar, and ice, quickly became popular with local Harvard students. Coffee Connection started making this drink with granita machines and then transitioned to soft-serve ice cream machines.

Starbucks green tea frappuccino

Here’s where Starbucks enters the picture: around the same time, the chain started testing a similar drink. Starbucks used a blender instead of a granita or soft-serve machine, which made the drink easier and faster to make.

By 1994, Starbucks had acquired Coffee Connection and its most popular drink, the Frappuccino. Starbucks quickly trademarked the name, rolled out the Frappuccino nationwide, and the rest is history!


Our Favorite Frappe and Frappuccino Recipes:

Want to try your hand at a homemade frappe or Frappuccino? Here are our favorite recipes:

Easy Frappuccino
Here's how to make an easy Frappuccino at home! All you need are a few simple ingredients and a good blender. Add optional flavorings to take your treat to the next level.
Try this delicious recipe!
Frappuccino_AppleZoomZoom_shutterstock
Easy Java Chip Frappuccino Recipe (Starbucks Copy-Cat)
Once you try this java chip frappuccino recipe, you probably won’t want to go back to the original! Blend coffee, milk, and chocolate to make a creamy, not-too-sweet dessert.
Try this delicious recipe!
java chip frappuccino
Decadent Mocha Frappe
Is there anything more delicious than frozen, chocolatey coffee? The sweet flavor of chocolate syrup combines perfectly with the rich bitterness of strong coffee. Topped with velvety whipped cream and mint leaves, this drink is truly unbeatable.
Try this delicious recipe!
mocha frappe recipe

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Frappe vs Frappuccino: What’s the Difference?

The frappe (or frappé) comes from Greece, where it’s usually made with instant coffee and shaken. The Frappuccino originated in Massachusetts, where it was originally made using granita and soft-serve ice cream machines. These days, the frappe is almost indistinguishable from the Frappuccino, and both are made using blenders. Because Starbucks trademarked the word Frappuccino, you can only order a true Frappuccino at the chain. If you go to another American coffee shop, you can order a frappe, which will likely be very similar: blended espresso, milk, sweeteners, and flavors.


Featured Image Credit: AppleZoomZoom, Shutterstock

Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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